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The couvent de l'Orée

The Couvent de l'Orée is situated in the heart of Sormery, near the church

The countryside

The pays d'Othe is a "natural area" of wooden hills at the ends of the Aube and Yonne


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The pays d'Othe is a "natural area" of wooden hills at the ends of the Aube and Yonne valleys. Its name means "gathering of trees" (from ligure). Straddling the counties of Aube (pays aubois) and Yonne (pays icaunais), administratively stretched between Champagne and Burgundy, it is also called "little Normandy", in reference to its many orchards. This area is also an ornithological reserve (88 single species have been spotted), and the fauna is abundant and diversified.

The area counts many springs (some are even providing drinkable water to Paris) and rivers, and is also historically significant; it was occupied first by the Ligures (from Italy), then by the Celts, which borrowed their customs and religion. Many years later, the Romans leaved traces of their passage (Via Agrippa).

Several centuries later, the wars between the counts of Champagne and the dukes of Burgundy massively destroyed the mediaval castels. The woods allowed the development of metalworking from the middle of 12th century, with the activities of the cistercian monks. The Templars settled there too and founded the commanderie de Coulours. During the 16th century, the area saw the fratricidal wars launched by the protestants during the Church Reformation, the split of the catholic church which led to the birth of the protestant churches (Calvinist, Lutherian...). The Hundred Years war brought plundering and destruction.

Nevertheless, the area each time rebirthed from the ashes. The inhabitants knew how to best manage its natural richnesses : forrest exploitation, textiles, agriculture. Nowadays the economy is still mainly based on agricultural activities (cereals, orchards, asparagus, cider, cattle raising, fat ducks, cheeses, viticulture, truffles...) and tourism. The Burgundy channel and Yonne river meet nearby, allowing water sports...

Many churches from 16th to 18th centuries can be visited, jubés, reredos, stained glass made by the glass masters of Troyes in Champagne. The Sormery church belongs to those churches decorated by the glass masters.

On wednesdays, the Aix en Othe market, 10 miles from Sormery, which is renown as one of the prettiest markets in France, attracts many tourists, as well as the Baltard-style Hall, mixing iron, cast iron and bricks, and Notre Dame church.

Saint Florentin is a small town named for the relics of the saint brought back by the sisters of the local count during the 11th century, situated 10 miles from Sormery. The Florentinois area, besides sports and leisure activities, also offers many cultural activities, museums, churches (St Florentin church, with its 16th century jubé and stained glass, and Renaissance statues), fontains, lavoirs, 14th and 15th century farms, cistercian barns, ...

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The nearby Tonnerrois area provides a rich architectural and cultural inheritance, and offers many promenades and visits : many castles (châteaux de Nuit, ofd'Ancy le Franc and of Tanlay, jewels of the Renaissance, Château of Maulnes...), and priories (cistercian itinerary of Yonne valley : Prieuré de Vausse, Abbaye de Vauluisant, Grange de Crécy, Abbaye de Pontigny, Grange de Beauvais, Abbaye de Quincy, Prieuré de Vausse).

Visit the cities and towns : first the city of Tonnerre (Thunder in english) (where the chevalier d'Eon was born, with its Hospitalier Museum and its collections from 13th to 20th centuries), then the small town of Noyers sur Serein (many wood and stone houses from 15th to 18th century with stone arcades and decorated beams, picturesque streets and covered passageways, old doors and fortifications, remparts), and finally l'Isle sur Serein.

Visit the vineyards of Tonnerre and Epineuil (white, red and rosy burgundy wines) .

Less than 13 miles away, the chablisian area and its vineyards, which exclusive grape variety, chardonnay, gives a reknown white, the Chablis.

Going northeast toward Troyes and the Champagne, you'll also discover the legacy of the glass masters of Troyes through the talent of contemporary artists.